Equality California Calls for Pledge from Fresno School Superintendent Finalist to Protect LGBTQ Students

Fresno, Calif. - August 18, 2017 -Equality California has sent a letter to members of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees urging them to obtain a pledge from interim Fresno Superintendent Bob Nelson, announced as the "finalist" in the district's search for a new superintendent, to participate in Equality California's Safe and Supportive Schools Index if confirmed for the position. The district hopes to announce its new leader next week. The Index is currently being developed by Equality California and its partners to provide an in-depth look at how well California schools are meeting their responsibility to protect LGBTQ students.

Equality California's request comes nearly two weeks after anti-LGBTQ comments by Board President Brooke Ashjian, in which he implied that merely teaching students about LGBTQ people and families will make them more likely to be LGBTQ themselves.

"Brooke Ashjian's comments underscore the need for a tool like our Safe and Supportive Schools Index to measure how well districts are meeting their responsibility to protect all students," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "It's one thing to pass laws requiring districts to keep LGBTQ students safe; it's another to ensure that districts fulfill that duty. Our Index will provide much-needed transparency into local school districts across the state."

The Safe and Supportive Schools Index will track metrics including whether districts have fully implemented the new History-Social Science Framework mandating the inclusion of LGBTQ people and social movements, whether groups supporting LGBTQ students are accessible on campus and whether gender-neutral bathrooms are available for transgender students.

The Index is being developed with the help of the law firm Latham and Watkins LLP, two advisory committees, and school district officials and teachers unions across the state, as well as the office of California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Equality California is the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org

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